When you’ve finally settled on a screen size and display, it’s time to drill down into some of the other key features to pay attention to.
What is it? Simply put, HDR heightens a picture’s dynamic range – the contrast between bright whites and deep blacks – revealing more details in the bright and dark areas of an image. It also significantly expands the range of colour, especially on TVs with wide colour gamut.
There are presently three types of HDR:
HDR10: The standard for streaming content and 4K UHD discs, using static metadata to set brightness and colour levels at a specific value.
HDR10+: Developed by Samsung, HDR10+ adds dynamic metadata – scene-by-scene image optimisation – to further enhance the picture, giving it the edge over HDR10.
DOLBY VISION: Dolby Laboratories’ certified HDR format, which does for video what Dolby Surround did for audio. Like HDR10+, Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata to optimise each scene in a movie, rather than a set value for the whole film.
Why it’s important: HDR is one of the most important features to look for when choosing a 4K UHDTV. When the content you’re watching supports HDR, you’ll notice the difference immediately – it’s like a stunning matte finish has been added to an already vibrant and detailed image, making finer details and colours really pop (particularly in dark scenes) and giving the picture a warmer and more natural look. Movies on 4K UHD discs more closely resemble how they looked in the cinema, and HDR support is now common on content offered by the more popular streaming services (if you have a speedy internet connection).
What is it? A feature of LED TVs, local dimming reduces the LED light in dark areas of the screen while keeping the bright bits bright, creating a better contrast ratio. This is particularly noticeable when watching HDR supported content on a 4K LED TV.
Why it’s important: Full Array Local Dimming – used in most top-end LEDTVs – utilises an array of LEDs behind the LCD panel that are divided into zones. Where required, the specific areas of the picture that need to be darker are dimmed without compromising the areas that need to be brighter.
What is it? Refresh rate refers to the number of times a TV refreshes the image’s frame rate per second, measured in hertz (Hz). Most TVs have a native refresh rate of 60Hz or 120Hz, which means the picture refreshes 60 or 120 times per second.
Why it’s important: It reduces motion blur and flicker that can occur when viewing fast moving images in sports broadcasts, gaming, and frenetic action scenes in movies. Video content and games with a frame rate higher than the standard will be displayed as intended.
What is it? Ultra High Definition TVs feature a number of convenient preset picture modes that will automatically optimise the image quality – simply select which one is best suited to the type of content you’re watching.
The most common picture modes are:
Dynamic: Sharpens and boosts the image’s brightness and colour to high levels and is best used for brightly lit and outdoor environments.
Standard/Natural: Delivers a strong, bright image that’s good for everyday TV broadcasts and daytime viewing.
Sports: Ultilises motion smoothing on content with higher frame rates and fast moving images. Best for sports bars or outdoor viewing on the deck.
Games: Reduces input lag, which is the time it takes for the TV to process an image sent from the console to the screen.
Movie/Cinema: Delivers accurate colour reproduction and the most warm and natural looking picture. Ideal for use across all types of content. Set and forget.
Filmmaker: Some manufacturers also offer this mode (endorsed by Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, no less), which delivers an even more natural looking and cinematic picture that’s as close as possible to what the filmmaker intended.
Why it’s important: Preset picture modes instantly tweak specific types of video content to maximise image quality. How good a picture looks is subjective, so experiment with each to determine which looks best to your eye.
What is it? A new specification in HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) connectivity to support higher video resolutions and refresh rates.
Why it’s important: It’s all about the transmission of data – more bandwidth equals higher resolutions. Standard HDMI has a bandwidth of 18Gbps (gigabits per second), HDMI 2.1 raises it to 48Gbps for resolutions up to 10K and frame rates of 120fps. 8K TVs and next-gen gaming consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X) support HDMI 2.1 connectivity.
What is it? Audio connectivity via an HDMI cable, sending the sound from a TV back to a connected soundbar or AV receiver. ARC stands for Audio Return Channel and is supported by most TVs and soundbars/receivers. eARC is Enhanced Audio Return Channel, boosting bandwidth and speed for higher quality audio formats, and is backwards compatible with ARC.
Why is it important: ARC simplifies the connection of audio receivers to the TV. eARC, with its higher bandwidth, brings out the best in Dolby Atmos and Dolby True HD. Be sure to check if the TV has an ARC or eARC HDMI port.
Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of e-waste and the correct way to dispose of old devices, but you still see TVs sat on the nature strip. In short, TVs – or any e-waste – should not end up in landfill where hazardous materials could potentially contaminate soils and water. Instead of sitting your old plasma on the footpath, throwing a ‘free’ sign on it, and hoping it will be collected by someone in desperate need of a 20-year-old TV, put it in the back of your car and drive to your nearest transfer station or e-waste drop-off point. Here it will be disposed of responsibly.